Commentary

Technology Impact On Our Lives: Distracts Or Improves?

According to the results of The Harris Poll in the summer of 2015, many adults remain divided on how technology impacts the way we live our lives. 71% believe that technology has improved the overall quality of their lives and 68% say it encourages people to be more creative. At the same time, 73% believe technology is creating a lazy society, 69% say too distracting, and 59% say technology is having a negative impact on literacy.

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However, 63% of Americans say technology has had a positive effect on their ability to learn new skills, as well as a positive effect on:

  • Their relationships with friends (46%)
  • Their ability to live life the way they want (45%)
  • Their happiness (43%)
  • Their social life (42%)

Different generations hold differing opinions when looking at any aspect of technology, be it usage, adoption, or general attitudes. Knowing that Millennials are traditionally the most attuned to their tech devices, it comes as no surprise that this group is more likely to say technology has had a positive effect on nearly all aspects tested, says the report.

Effects of Technology

Effect

Millennials

Gen Xers

Baby Boomers

Matures

Ability to learn new skills

72%

59%

60%

56%

Relationships with friends

59%

46%

36%

34%

Ability to live life the way they want

53%

43%

39%

40%

Happiness

52%

42%

37%

38%

Social life

57%

42%

30%

29%

Relationships with family

46%

36%

33%

27%

Source: Harris Poll report, November 2015

While Millennials may be the most likely group to say technology positively affects their relationships, and the most likely to say it enhances their social life, their family and friends feel differently. Also, Millennials are more likely than any other generation to say their friends/family think they use technology too much.

Men and women offer some differing opinions on how technology affects their lives as well.

  • Women are more likely than men to hold the negative opinions that technology has become too distracting (76% vs. 70% of men) and that it gets upgraded/updated too quickly (67% vs. 57%).
  • They’re also more likely to believe it has a negative effect on their productivity at home (30% vs. 17%) and safety and security (18% vs. 13%).
  • However, women don’t find it all bad. They’re also more likely than men to say they use it as an escape from their busy lives (50% vs. 43%).

A majority of men are more likely than women to believe technology has a positive impact on several functional aspects of their lives.

  • This includes their ability to learn new skills (67% vs. 60% of women)
  • To live life the way they want (50% vs. 40%)
  • Men believe technology positively impacts their safety and security (45% vs. 34% of women)
  • Their productivity at home (44% vs. 28%)
  • Their work productivity (43% vs. 29%)
  • Their work life (42% vs. 29%)

When faced with a list of technological devices and general life staples and asked how long they could live without each, majorities of Americans indicate that they could make it a week or less:

  • Without Internet access (67%)
  • A computer/laptop (60%)
  • Mobile phone (59%)
  • Television (55%)
  • Simply could not live without them (20%)

Just to add a dash of perspective, says the report, about four in ten said they could only make it a week or less (or not at all) without caffeine, with roughly two in ten saying they could not live without them – period.

Finally, what can Americans live without?

Americans Willing to Live Without

Willing to Forgo

% of Respondents

Social Networking Sites

58%

Tablet computer

49

Caffeine

47

Mobile phone

28

Television

28

Sex

26

Computer/laptop

23

Internet access

18

Source: Harris Poll report, November 2015

For additional information about the Harris Poll, including detailed demographic charts, please visit here.

 

 

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